Today we took part in four exciting events. The first activity was visiting the Izume Hachiman Shrine. At the shrine, we were taught how to properly give offerings to the god of victory. The offerings were pine branches with special pieces of origami tied to them. The ritual was fun to learn, even though I messed up the process! After some apprentices of the shrine performed a very complicated looking dance. After the dance, we were invited to try on the traditional priest/priestess outfits of the shrine.
The second activity was making soba noodles, which was nice because soba is one of my favorite foods! You might think it would be easy to make noodles, just mix a few ingredients together, and then cut the dough into noodle shapes, then cook it. It is lot harder than that! There are many steps where you have to kneed and flatten the dough. After longer than I thought it should have taken to make noodles, they were done. They were then cooked for us by the older ladies that helped us make them. We then ate them for lunch!
The third and favorite of the activities was Ikebana, Japanese flower arranging. I really don’t usually like flowers, but for some reason, I just really liked being able to set up and create my own arrangements. Maybe I liked flowers more during Ikebana because I got to work with the flowers instead of just looking.
For the fourth and final activity, we went to the first night of the Nebuta festival. We had set up a PR booth for the Exchange Program, and were making and giving out pancakes with Maine maple syrup. We also had a bean bag toss, and gave away friendship bracelets that we had made. I have to contradict what I said before, and make the festival my new favorite. It was just such a great experience and I made some new friends.
– Theodore Seidel, 14, Damariscotta